June 3rd, 2009
05:46 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama officials fire back at bin Laden

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) - This kingdom is the birthplace of Osama bin Laden, so it was interesting to see how the terrorist tried to overshadow President Obama's trip here by releasing a new audiotape threatening America on Wednesday.

Perhaps just as interesting is the fact that unlike their predecessors in the Bush White House, who tried their hardest to ignore bin Laden, Obama administration officials took the rare step of engaging the 9/11 mastermind by charging his latest threat is just a desperate attempt to try and upstage the president's trip.

"I don't think it's surprising that Al-Qaeda would want to shift attention away from the president's historic efforts, and continued efforts, to reach out and have an open dialogue with the Muslim world," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters during a press briefing here.

Related: Purported bin Laden tape slams U.S. role in Pakistan

It was a message reinforced by officials throughout the Obama administration: "I think the timing is pretty self-evident and it doesn't take a rocket scientist on this one," declared Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

P.J. Crowley, spokesman at the State Department, got into the act as well by teeing up the president's Thursday speech in Cairo by taunting bin Laden a bit.

"You have, you know, the leader of the free world speaking from one of the great cities in the world," said Crowley. "And you have the - you know, bin Laden speaking from an undisclosed, you know, location. And I think that speaks - that speaks volumes in terms of the contrast."

Crowley added, "So I think there will be a contrast between the, you know, Bin Laden's vision of intolerance and perpetual conflict and the president's message tomorrow offering a vision of peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, and interconnected world, you know, for the 21st century."

In private, top Obama officials are even blunter, claiming bin Laden feels threatened that Obama's outreach - coupled with his vow to shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay - is pulling the terrorist's top recruiting tools off the table.

For his part, bin Laden charged in his audiotape: "Obama proved that he is walking the same road of his predecessors to build enmity among Muslims and increase the number of fighters against the U.S."

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (218 Responses)
  1. Rob

    You need to move to Texas so you can be closer to you hero, Heir Bush and maybe you can start a Nazi camp together and talk about how many ways Bush and Cheney have violates our laws and did everything they could to destroy the constitution and our freedoms. The Bush administration has done more harm to this country than any terrorist could ever dream off.

    June 3, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  2. annie for Palin

    Contrary to what obama and gibbs and obama's staff believe, the world doesn't revolve around obama. bin laden hates Americans and as hard as it may be for obama to believe that includes him.

    June 3, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "Bin Laden has nothing to worry about Hussein Obama, he was busy in Riyadh bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia.

    Bin L:aden shouldn't get mad with Hussein Obama, both of them are MUSLIMS, both of them have one goal in life – destroy America. Bin Laden should be supprotive of his brother"

    Pretty sure that was typed in a Speak & Spell voice...

    June 3, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  4. Tomkat

    Leslie, simply put, you are a fool. America has no room for racists such as you. Please leave this beautiful land that you wish to destroy with your vile philosophy. Please. Thank you.


    June 3, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  5. Kentucky Muslim


    Destroy America? I'm a Muslim and I sure don't want that. I was born here, as were my parents and two of my grandparents–the other two immigrated from Europe. A convert, I'm the only Muslim in my family and America is the only country I have. There are many others like me. We are Muslims, and we are Americans, and we want the best for our country.

    June 3, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  6. annie for Palin

    To Claudia wherever you are from Houson or Houston – I am more frighten that the muslims are listening to obama. They hate us bad enough and after listening to him they will know that they can walk all over us. He has already LIED about the number of muslims in this country. These countries that hate us will smile to face and laugh behind his back knowing good and well that they can expose him as a omplete fool.,

    June 3, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  7. Peter

    I hope President Obama gets bin Laden before 2010, just to show how easy it was to prove how stupid Bush really really is

    June 3, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  8. Nope... I dont' buy it....


    Your message sounded just like Bin Laden's

    June 3, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  9. Jody

    I think there would be a much larger crowd watching if we could draw and quarter bin ladin and Mz peloseeee. Having her as third in line for presidency frightens me to no end. If our VEEP were to move up....heaven help us. Surely Mr. Obama could have chosen someone else!!

    If our President stops talking down about our country, builds up our military and comes around on E-verify, I'm back in the fold.

    June 3, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  10. Dj

    Leslie, comments like yours are what drives hate in the world. There are times to give up the hate and try to listen. Obama is the President of a nation of power. Power is shows greatness not only in might, but in understanding, tolerance, and the will to listen to all points all of views. The last 8 years has passed, and now it time to move forward with better ideas and leave the past in the past. So as we move foward we can someday leave our prejurdiness behind. Don't you think it's time?

    June 3, 2009 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  11. And What?

    Uh… why doesn't Osama tell the president in person? Who's afraid of who? Hmmmmmmmm

    He, Osama is hiding in his own land and he wants to tell the president what??????????? I don't think he has a leg to stand on.

    June 3, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  12. Scott

    really leslie....hussein obama...muslim...how about barack...don't really think his objective...as president...is to destroy america

    just a thought though...

    June 3, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  13. MatthewDetroit

    Wait until the muslim love fest starts tomorrow.
    Barack is a muslim and was raised a muslim.
    He is going to speak up for his people and against the USA.
    But Bin Laden does not care what a skinny half musflim from indonesia, born in Kenya thinks.
    All Baracks talking and babble is not going to stop Bin Laden, Iran, or any other person or country that wants to threaten the USA.
    Barack is a wimp plain and simple.
    Good choice for a commander and chief. Should have picked Hillary. She has a lot more guts.

    June 3, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  14. Marshal

    Leslie, you should be supprotive of your President... you sound un-Amurican.

    June 3, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  15. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    John McCain said he would follow Bin Laden to the gates of hell and get him and drag him in...I think it's about time we put him on the job.

    June 3, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  16. MatthewDetroit

    Brian G, Sugarland...
    You are an idiot.

    BIn Laden brings down the World Trade Center towers killing 3000 innocent people.
    President Geoge W. Bush fights back and defends the country.
    You sir are a lousy american.
    Correction sir you should leave.

    June 3, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  17. Crazy ass human being

    bin Laden is a coward. He would send 10 year old children to kill themselves for his agenda. I sould love to see a bunker buster land his cowardly lap.

    June 3, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  18. Wobblyone

    Well said Lealie.
    Methinks your President, with the BO is about to drive a wedge straight through the guts of the US with his Islamic ties.
    Get your burkha's ready girls.

    June 3, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  19. AK, CA

    Sad to note that some people think and breath hate and discrimination, and sometime plain stupidity. What is wrong with being a Muslim?

    June 3, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  20. Loup Garou 782

    @ Leslie:

    Well Said! I must commend you, seems there are only a few of us who understand what is in the works. Welcome aboard.

    June 3, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  21. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    this idiot needs to walk way out in to a desert and die . then the muslim world will settle down and catch up to the rest of the world

    June 3, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  22. dguy

    Leslie your comments are obviously those of an ignorant fool...one who subscribes to the scare tactics that the Republicans have mastered these past 8 years.

    GO PRESIDENT OBAMA! Make us proud.

    June 3, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  23. JT from MO

    As an 18 year old high school graduate, conservative democrat, I might not know much about the foreign policy process in our country, but by the way Osama Bin Laden is acting in this tape; I can tell he is being defensive because he is scared. Even though I think Bush was a good man personally, I do not believe he knew what he was doing as president. Obama is smarter than former President Bush was in this area especially. Osama knows this, and he knows he is about to be out manuevered in his tatics. While on the subject on foreign policy, I might not agree with the way Former President Reagan handled tax issues, I have to say foreign policy wise, he was brilliant. Both he and President Obama like to negotiate fairly and very directly, and that is the way other coutries like to see us do our foreign policy. I think both President Obama and former President Reagan should be examples on how foreign relations should be carried out.

    June 3, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  24. DSW

    Oh Good Lord Leslie – are you still spouting Repugs ugly talking points – it didn't work during the election and it isn't working now.
    IF America can stand for all that is good & decent in the world then fanatics of very type lose their arguments against the US making the world a much safer.
    Fanatics of every kind must be defeated.
    If the US goes around like a power hungry, druken cowboy – that just fuels the fire of other countries.
    We have to walk the walk.
    What's wrong with wanting to live in a respectable, honest country – that is truly a example to the world???

    June 3, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  25. Ryan

    It’s truly amazing how Bin Laden said, “Elderly people, children and women fled their homes and lived in tents as refugees after they have lived in dignity in their homes," bin Laden said. "Let the American people be ready to reap what the White House leaders have sown," he added.” In fact, Al-Qaida and the Taliban are responsible for the refugee crisis in Pakistan even thought they killed many of their own people.

    June 3, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
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